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Tess is a successful cozy mystery writer who has a speaking engagement at a library in Chicopee, Massachusetts. After the event, the librarian who had invited her, Ramona Norville, tells Tess to avoid Interstate 84. She gives Tess the directions to Stagg Road, a presumably safer shortcut to Tess' home in Connecticut. However, on the shortcut, Tess' Ford Expedition rolls over nail-studded pieces of wood which lie across the road, giving her a flat tire. The incident happens by an abandoned Esso gas station.
Shortly afterwards, a big man in a pickup offers to assist Tess. At first, the trucker seems to be eager to help, but he soon darkens. Tess realizes that the driver had set out the road hazard. He knocks Tess out and proceeds to brutally rape and beat her, before finally choking her to unconsciousness. She later wakes up and feigns death as he stashes her body in a culvert and drives away. After the man has left, Tess escapes, but sees several other murdered women, all victims of the same man, lying dead in the pipe. Tess escapes to try and find some help, but as she walks, she worries that the attack will create a scandal. She believes that people would write that she was "asking for it", and her name as an author would be dragged through the mud. She decides that she cannot mentally endure another trauma, and instead goes home without telling anyone.
Later, she uses the detective skills she acquired while writing her novels to find her rapist, who turns out to be "Little Driver", and kills him. She also kills his two accomplices—his brother, "Big Driver", and his mother, the librarian from Chicopee, Ramona Norville. Tess comes to terms with her sins and goes home, finally beginning to feel peace.
- Entertainment Weeklyl November 12, 2010